The NGO Alarm Phone reports that 65 people in distress at sea have been waiting for rescue in the Maltese SAR zone since Friday morning. Despite alerts Coast Guards refused responsibility. Evidence of inaction by EU and national authorities putting lives at risk keeps mounting.
Alarmphone, which runs a hotline for boat people in distress, alerted Maltese, Italian and Tunisian authorities without response. Before they lost contact to the boat on Friday night, the situation on board was “tense, people were exhausted and dehydrated, the boat was drifting”. The NGO reports that: “There are 20 minors on board. Their families call us & ask why Europe ignores their sons, brothers & sisters. What if these were white children?”. According to images taken by the reconnaissance airplane Moonbird, run by the NGO Sea Watch, the passengers do not carry life vests.
In another incident at the beginning of the week, a group of 57 people in distress was abandoned for 40h by EU national authorities and a merchant ship before the Italian Coast Guard finally rescued them. The Moonbird documented that the merchant vessel and a Italian Coast Guard patrol boat had been in direct vicinity of the boat without undertaking a rescue.
The NGO Alarm Phone, which had alerted the Moonbird to the boat after receiving its distress call, commented: ‘‘While we are glad they survived and were eventually rescued and taken to Lampedusa, we are once again appalled by the cynical non-assistance policies that play out in the Mediterranean and that needlessly endanger so many vulnerable lives’’. According to Infomigrants, around 1000 people fleeing Libya managed to arrive safely to Italian ports between 9-12 July.
The UN Migration Agency, IOM, in Libya reported that on 14 July 86 people, including 18 children, were returned to Libya by the coast guard. On Wednesday, the organisation called upon EU authorities to stop returning people to Libya, stating that: “Nearly 6,000 migrants who tried to flee Libya were intercepted or rescued and returned so far this year. Most end up in detention. Some are unaccounted for. European action is urgently needed to end returns to Libya”.
The civilian rescue vessel Sea Watch-3 is still blocked by Italian authorities in the Sicilian port of Porto Empedocle allegedly due to “several irregularities ”. A spokesman for Sea Watch said that the so-called technical problems found on board the ship were a cover to stop the ship from operating.
For further information:
- ECRE, Med: 118 Rescued, 211 into Quarantine while Italy Faces Legal Action for Pull-backs, June 2020
- ECRE, NGOs Resume Rescues amid Mounting Death Toll and Continued Pull-Backs, June 2020
- ECRE, Med: Malta Under-Fire for Continued Rights Violations but PM Dodges Homicide Charges, June 2020
- ECRE, Med: Continued Violations Topped with Dodgy Deals, May 2020
- ECRE, Med: New Evidence of Malta’s Deadly Strategies, May 2020
- ECRE, Med: 78 to quarantine on Italian Ship, 163 still Stranded amid Spike in Departures and Depleted Rescue Capacities, May 2020
- ECRE, Med: Hundreds Remain Stranded at Sea as Ports are Still Closed, Solidarity Remains Lacking and Interceptions Continue, May 2020
- ECRE, Med: Former Maltese Official Admits Push-Back while another 62 People are Left Stranded, 08 May 2020
- ECRE, Med: 180 Quarantined on Italian Ship while NGO takes Legal Actions against Maltese Decision-Makers, April 2020
- ECRE, Med: 12 Left to Die and 182 Stranded as EU States Refuse Rescue, April 2020
- ECRE, Med: 150 Stranded at Sea as Malta and Italy Declare Ports “unsafe”, April 2020
- ECRE, Med: IRINI Ships will Not Search but Rescue – Civilian Search and Rescue Vessel Back at Sea, April 2020
- ECRE, Med: EU Naval Arms Embargo Mission Jeopardised Over Migration Concerns, Cyprus Turns Away Syrian Nationals, March 2020
- ECRE, Med: Search and Rescue Operations Under Pressure from COVID-19, Interceptions and Return to Libya Continue, March 2020
- ECRE,Interview: WatchTheMed Alarm Phone: A Response for Rescue and a Call for Change,February 2020
- ECRE, Med: Death Toll Mounting, NGOs Rescue, Returns to Libya Continue,February 2020
- ECRE, Med: People Returned, Rescued and Gone Missing, 20 February 2020
- ECRE, Med: Disembarkations in Italy, Rescues by Malta, Court release NGO Vessel, 14 February 2020
- ECRE, Med: NGOs Rescue Almost 1000 people – Pull-backs to Libya continue, January 2020
- ECRE, Mediterranean: Rescue Operation and Hope for Sophia’s Ships, January 2020
- ECRE, Safe Ports in Italy for 237 People but 1000 Returned to Detention in Libya, January 2020
- ECRE, Appeal Court Clears Lifeline Captain of all Charges – NGOs Continue to Rescue, January 2020
- ECRE, Operation Sophia: Ships Remain Suspended while Support of Libyan ‘Coast Guard’ Continues, September 2019
- ECRE, Last Breath of Operation Sophia Should Push Coalition of the Willing, March 2019
- ECRE, A Contingency Plan for Disembarkation and Relocation, January 2019
- ECRE, Med: Deaths, Returns, Rescues and Hope for Justice, December 2019
- ECRE, EU Praise of Libyan Coast Guard out of Touch with Reality, September 2020
Photo from Unsplash: Sebastian Grochowicz